1. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    21 May '07 21:53
    The biblical literalist is stuck defending the rash actions of the OT God, who on several occasions ordered his chosen people to commit genocide, and on other occasions directly carried it out by his own hand. This begs the question: Is it consistent for a "just, loving and merciful" God to order thousands of people, some of whom are innocent children, to be killed?

    The usual defense is that God may have a good reason, but we are either not entitled to ask, or not capable of understanding what it is. I reject the latter; I believe that, even if it is difficult to understand, we are beings capable of moral deliberation, and ought to be given the chance to try.

    If genocide can ever be a morally acceptable act, then it should not be too hard for us to imagine a situation in which it is morally correct. I have asked biblical-literalist Christians to give me a hypothetical situation in which genocide is justified; so far, no takers.

    Disappointed by the lack of response, I put myself back in my old theistic shell and tried to imagine how I might respond to such a challenge. Here goes:

    The race of the Xites all have a terminal disease, borne by a rodent that is indigenous to their country. However, they have started trade with other civilizations, and other peoples who come in contact with Xites are dying horrible, twitching deaths (lacking the natural immunity that the Xites have. Furthermore, the immunity is genetic, so no vaccine can be formulated to help the other races). The Xites are unmoved, however, and assert their right to continue to mingle with other civilizations. They resist attempts at quarantines.

    In that case, the genocide of all Xites may be justified to keep all the other civilizations safe, especially if the population of other civilizations is far greater than that of the Xites.
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    21 May '07 22:30
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    The biblical literalist is stuck defending the rash actions of the OT God, who on several occasions ordered his chosen people to commit genocide, and on other occasions directly carried it out by his own hand. This begs the question: Is it consistent for a "just, loving and merciful" God to order thousands of people, some of whom are innocent children, t ...[text shortened]... fe, especially if the population of other civilizations is far greater than that of the Xites.
    what about the Cathars? A serious challenge to the church in what became the South of France and ...... but what am I thinking? That was only because they were an affront to God, and deserved everything they got (and more, probably) in the eyes of the pope anyway.
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    22 May '07 00:23
    What about when the Klingons killed all the tribbles because they represented an economic menace?
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    22 May '07 03:37
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    The biblical literalist is stuck defending the rash actions of the OT God, who on several occasions ordered his chosen people to commit genocide, and on other occasions directly carried it out by his own hand. This begs the question: Is it consistent for a "just, loving and merciful" God to order thousands of people, some of whom are innocent children, t ...[text shortened]... fe, especially if the population of other civilizations is far greater than that of the Xites.
    Well to begin with how can a man speak for God? Especially when the Bible says that God's thoughts are not mans thoughts and vice versa. However, this does not preclude man to attempt to understand how God thinks, and there are clues Biblically that give us insight into the mind of God. Here are some of my Biblical insights.

    1. God is holy. For me this means that God is without sin. Sin to me is simply violating the greatest commandment which is to love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind and then to love your neighbor as yourself. In fact, Christ said that on this law hang ALL the commandments in the Bible. So what does it mean to love God? It means that one actively attempts to please God because it brings pleasure to those who love God to please him just like in it would in any other relationship. So how does one please God? It seems to me that the best way is to listen, observe, and do what he asks. All we can do to please someone is to do what we think or know pleases them. That is, if we really care about them.

    2. This brings me to the concept that God is love. What does this mean? For me this means that God has my best interests at heart as well as for the rest of his creation. Thus the will of God is God's best for his creation. Naturally if God loves us then he wants what is best for us and that revolves around what his will is for us. So sin is merely a departure from God's best for us or what his will is for us just as Christ was always seeking to do the will of his Father. So what is God to do? Should he look the other way when we depart from his perfect will? After all, if we depart from what is best for us we are merely hurting ourselves in some way. So if God looks the other way and pretends not to notice does he, in fact, care that we are hurting and killing ourselves? I don't think so. Love does not equal indifference.

    3. This leads to the notion that God is a God of free will. After all, if one is truly able to love one must have the freedom to love back. Otherwise love is merely someone or some God loving themselves through another person or creature by manipulating their will. But if God be a God of free will how does this God go about "correcting" the sinfulness of man or man's self destructive tendencies? It seems to me God has two options. He can either cut man's life short or show man a preferable alternative to choose. It seems to me that God has employed both alternatives in the past. But you may say why does God not only attempt to offer us a better alternative rather than cut our lives short? Well, perhaps there is an imaginary line that is crossed as man becomes increasingly wicked that he travels to a point of no return. Perhaps God can no longer reach them and, in fact, they simply wax worse and worse and spread their poisen to others just as in your example of the Xiates. Perhaps in the end more lives would be saved if they were to perish off the face of the earth than there would be saved had God spared their lives. Who is to say?

    4. Christ died for our sins. Notice that when Christ comes on the scene, there seems to be a change in the works. In fact, there seems to be two Gods in the Bible. There seems to be the fire and brimstone God of the OT and the merciful and loving God of the NT. I think it is because now God has a better vehicle in providing man with a better alternative to sin and man no longer has a point of no return in regards to sin. Through Christ ALL sin can be dealt with or washed away. In fact, the Bible states that Christ delays in his coming so that more can have the oppurtunity to be saved. However, the Bible then says that Chirst will feel compelled to come a second time so as to spare mankind from ultimatly destroying himself off the face of the earth. At this time the period of grace will have evaporated and God will then set things right. It then seems that the God of fire and brimestone seems to jump back on the scene from where he left off in the OT once Christ comes for a second time as we read in Revelation. In fact, the carnage in Revelation makes the OT carnage seem as though it were childs play.

    Speaking of children, what of them? Perhaps this is the hardest thing to understand. Should God have only wiped off the face of the earth the wicked partents while sparing their children? Perhaps creating the world's largest orphanage would have been a viable alternative? Then again, on many levels I think the parent is responsible for their offspring. The parents are accountable regarding how they conduct themselves and how that influences their offspring. It may not seem fair to include their children in their suffering, but then again, neither is it fair that abusive parents should be able to spew their poisen onto their innocent offspring so as to create future abusers. Like it or not sin effects the guilty as well as the innocent. ALL suffer. There is no way around it. Understanding it all, however, is another matter. I wish I could say I have a full grasp on such matters.
  5. Cape Town
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    22 May '07 06:18
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    The usual defense is that God may have a good reason, but we are either not entitled to ask, or not capable of understanding what it is. I reject the latter; I believe that, even if it is difficult to understand, we are beings capable of moral deliberation, and ought to be given the chance to try.
    The issue of innocent children dying is hardly unique to genocides ordered by God or other genocides for that matter. Children die all the time. If God is allowing them to die then either there is a moral justification for innocent children dying or God is just immoral or God doesn't exist. As for the adults in some of the cases the genocides in the Bible were of those people whom God had already decided to send to Hell so why let them live longer. Whatever the case, as God chooses time of death the fact that he kills 3million at once is really no difference from killing 3 million over 20 years so all the moral issues in question apply to everyone all the time not just genocides in the old testament.

    In that case, the genocide of all Xites may be justified to keep all the other civilizations safe, especially if the population of other civilizations is far greater than that of the Xites.
    It sounds like the native americans would have been justified in carrying out genocide on the European settlers.
  6. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    22 May '07 06:211 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    Well to begin with how can a man speak for God? Especially when the Bible says that God's thoughts are not mans thoughts and vice versa. However, this does not preclude man to attempt to understand how God thinks, and there are clues Biblically that give us insight into the mind of God. Here are some of my Biblical insights.

    1. God is holy. For me this l, however, is another matter. I wish I could say I have a full grasp on such matters.
    1. You're saying that God is without sin, and sin is failing to love God. Summary: God always loves himself wholeheartedly. 😛 That's trivial.

    And just how does one "love" God? For some of his followers, it meant dishing out death at the edge of the sword, and for others, it meant giving all they had to the poor. Can you understand why the prospective believer would be confused about what it actually means to try to please God?

    True caring also involves correcting, or challenging, someone who is doing wrong. It does not involve ignoring your own beliefs and principles in favor of blind loyalty.

    2. What is love? Your love for God shows a trust in him, despite the apparently hideous nature of his actions. I would ask you why you have a double standard for men and God. If a friend walked up and punched you in the face, you'd probably demand to know the reason he did it. You certainly wouldn't call it an act of love without getting a convincing reason from him. Why don't you ask the same of your God?

    What should God do when we disobey him? Preferably, anything other than killing large numbers of people. Why not try rehabilitation, education, or even lighter punishments than mass death? It seems the OT God had no inclination toward leniency, but liked to starting whacking people the minute they went astray [and even that is debatable; some people in the OT were killed by God for dubious reasons].

    3. I expect more from a powerful, yet loving, God. Again, a number of preferable solutions [to genocide] suggest themselves. Did God try showing the "evil" parents the truth? I see little/no record of it. Surely, given a non-lethal demonstration of his power, some would have recanted their position, and their lives could have been spared. Even if none of them did recant, couldn't they have been quarantined from the Israelites somehow? I mean, just beam them to Siberia or something. Again, we've got God here, the All-Powerful, so this should be easy.

    A God who is concerned about justice would not just sit around and order children to be murdered. Even man's feeble sense of justice can do better than that!

    I guess I don't understand why you aren't more troubled about the implications of your beliefs. If I were still a theist, arguments like this would grate on my mind to no end. Perhaps that is why I left.
  7. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    22 May '07 06:32
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    The issue of innocent children dying is hardly unique to genocides ordered by God or other genocides for that matter. Children die all the time. If God is allowing them to die then either there is a moral justification for innocent children dying or God is just immoral or God doesn't exist. As for the adults in some of the cases the genocides in the Bible ...[text shortened]... e native americans would have been justified in carrying out genocide on the European settlers.
    I deliberately narrowed the discussion down to OT genocide. Instant, mass genocide is the hardest act to justify morally. I had no desire to get bogged down in the larger issue of death in general.

    I don't actually believe my argument about the Xites. I just put it out there because it was the best reason I could think of to justify genocide. Even in that situation, there must always be some option that is morally preferable to killing every Xite, even to the point of warring with them until a quarantine is enforced.
  8. Donationrwingett
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    22 May '07 07:27
    Originally posted by whodey
    Well to begin with how can a man speak for God? Especially when the Bible says that God's thoughts are not mans thoughts and vice versa. However, this does not preclude man to attempt to understand how God thinks, and there are clues Biblically that give us insight into the mind of God. Here are some of my Biblical insights.

    1. God is holy. For me this ...[text shortened]... l, however, is another matter. I wish I could say I have a full grasp on such matters.
    You're just god's little Adolf Eichmann, aren't you? All in a day's work.
  9. Cape Town
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    22 May '07 07:38
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    I deliberately narrowed the discussion down to OT genocide. Instant, mass genocide is the hardest act to justify morally. I had no desire to get bogged down in the larger issue of death in general.
    But from a theists perspective genocide by God is identical to natural death with the only difference being timing. Thus there should be no reason why it is harder to morally justify genocide than say AIDS or cancer as all are presumably chosen by God. In fact theists who actually believe that the genocides of the OT were ordered by God find them far easier to explain as there are reasons given whereas it is really hard to explain why a child must die of AIDS.

    I don't actually believe my argument about the Xites. I just put it out there because it was the best reason I could think of to justify genocide. Even in that situation, there must always be some option that is morally preferable to killing every Xite, even to the point of warring with them until a quarantine is enforced.
    Yet many Americans find it justifiable to wipe out the Iraqis in order to avoid WMDs which is a more or less equivalent situation except that in this case the WMDs weren't even proven to exist.
    The interesting thing with morals is it often seems more morally acceptable to kill people if it is done in one way rather than another.
    One of the biggest issues with morals is that you cannot predict the future so in your scenario it is hard to be certain whether or not a cure or some other solution may be found.
  10. Illinois
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    22 May '07 08:55
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    The biblical literalist is stuck defending the rash actions of the OT God, who on several occasions ordered his chosen people to commit genocide, and on other occasions directly carried it out by his own hand. This begs the question: Is it consistent for a "just, loving and merciful" God to order thousands of people, some of whom are innocent children, t ...[text shortened]... fe, especially if the population of other civilizations is far greater than that of the Xites.
    Is it consistent for a "just, loving and merciful" God to order thousands of people, some of whom are innocent children, to be killed?

    You don't need to imagine a hypothetical situation in which genocide is morally correct, because the OT provides you with several real ones. If God is good, then there obviously must have been an extremely heinous provocation to incite his wrath. And it's no mystery what that provocation was: idolatry. Find out why God hates idolatry so much and you will have the answer to your question.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

    "Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

    "For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

    "And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious towards parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them" (Romans 1:18-32).
  11. Cape Town
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    22 May '07 09:25
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    If God is good, ...
    You clearly haven't done much thinking about morality. Although many theists claim that "God is good" and goodness is absolute they quickly realize that in attempting to justify such a claim they end up defining good as God. God, as described in the Bible is not 'good' by my moral standards. If he is good by your moral standards then obviously you can accept the genocide because your moral standards allow for it. Your moral standards obviously have a clause to the effect that killing and idolaters is morally acceptable. But don't try to pretend that your moral standards or even Gods moral standards are somehow universal because they aren't.
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    22 May '07 09:59
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    You clearly haven't done much thinking about morality. Although many theists claim that "God is good" and goodness is absolute they quickly realize that in attempting to justify such a claim they end up defining good as God. God, as described in the Bible is not 'good' by my moral standards. If he is good by your moral standards then obviously you can acc ...[text shortened]... r moral standards or even Gods moral standards are somehow universal because they aren't.
    God, as described in the Bible is not 'good' by my moral standards.

    Your moral standards are inconsequential.

    "None is good, save one, that is, God" (Luke 18:19).
  13. Cape Town
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    22 May '07 11:54
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    [b]God, as described in the Bible is not 'good' by my moral standards.

    Your moral standards are inconsequential.

    "None is good, save one, that is, God" (Luke 18:19).[/b]
    Yours and Gods moral standards are equally inconsequential. As I said, you haven't got even a basic grasp of the concept of morals. The quote you gave shows that the Bible (at least that translation of it anyway) doesn't either.
  14. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    22 May '07 12:24
    Originally posted by whodey
    Well to begin with how can a man speak for God?
    Such people are called prophets. There's a long list of them in the Old Testament.

    As for the genocide issue, perhaps it is a case of retroactive justification of heinous acts committed by a nation intent on gaining living space.
  15. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    22 May '07 12:24
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    (Romans 1:18-32).
    That's Paul...How about some OT context?
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